By our Correspondent
Governor of the South East geo-political zone and other leaders of the zone, on Sunday, converged on the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, to witness the historic reopening and inauguration of the newly rehabilitated runway of the airport, expressing deep appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for acceding to their yearnings by approving and releasing the sum of N10 billion for the rehabilitation of the airport.
Speaking during the reopening of the airport which was closed on August 24, 2019, for a comprehensive rehabilitation of the runway and other facilities, the Igbo leaders also commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for his exceptional commitment, resilience and sacrifice towards the actualization of the project.
Describing the event as a dream come true, they also appreciated other South East governors for their individual and collective contributions to the completion of the project.
They equally paid tribute to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, for his untiring efforts in ensuring that the airport runway was rehabilitated to standard as one of the best in the country, against all challenges.
In their separate speeches, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, the Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, among others, thanked President Buhari and the South East Governors, especially Gov. Ugwuanyi for the reopening of all-important airport, stressing that it will go a long way to enhance commercial activities in the zone, and safety of air travelers.
They therefore urged the federal government to ensure that the ongoing construction of the Cargo terminal and International wing of the airport were also completed as scheduled.
Speaking on behalf of the South East Governors and other leaders of the zone, Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State thanked President Buhari for expressly approving a special funding (N10 billion) for the rehabilitation of the Enugu airport as well as the special release of the fund.
Gov. Umahi also expressed gratitude to the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Sirika for displaying a special character worthy of emulation, in seeing that the project was realized.
The South East Governors Forum (SEGF) chairman equally appreciated Gov. Ugwuanyi for his outstanding commitment and the courage he displayed in ensuring that all the requests made by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the resolution of the SEGF with regard to safety measures, were implemented to the letter.
According to Gov. Umahi, “Governor of Enugu State, we can’t thank you enough. You made the job of all the South East Governors so easy; you undertook to do it alone. Thank you for the courage in removing all the illegal structures affecting the safety of the air travelers. Thank you for the road you built and other infrastructure, logistics support and daily supervision you offered in this place. Mr. Governor (Ugwuanyi) we are very grateful to you, thank you very much”.
In his speech, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Sirika, who declared that the airport has been formally opened for domestic flights “today” and international flights on September 5, said: “We are proud to say that this project being commissioned today is indeed a testimony to Mr. President’s commitment to the provision of infrastructure in the country”.
Sen. Sirika expressed absolute gratitude to President Buhari “for giving approval of N10 billion to undertake rehabilitation of the runway and other works, which include taxi way, link way, emergency operation centre, car park, entrance gate, perimeter fencing, perimeter wall, terminal rehabilitation, instrument landing system to allow landing even in bad weather, among others”.
He maintained that the federal government has “delivered the project on time and on budget and will focus on delivering the Cargo terminal and the international terminal building and many more”, disclosing that “just before I left my office, I have approved and released the sum of N1 billion to continue the international terminal building”.
The Minister lauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for his “unwavering support and the assistance he has given to us in the course of this project”.
In his welcome address, Gov. Ugwuanyi who appreciated the unparalleled commitment of President Buhari to the infrastructural upgrade of the airport, disclosed that the Enugu State government in its determination to provide the enabling environment and needed support to ensure the quick completion of rehabilitation works undertook and provided the required support.
According to the governor, the support includes, complete removal of all encroachment on the airport facility; removal and relocation of the 120-meter Enugu State Broadcasting Service TV/Radio Mast and Transmission Station; removal, demolition and relocation of the Orie Emene market; construction of a 1.3km asphalt road to the Very High Directional Radio Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (V.O.R/D.M.E) navigation facility at Emene; Provision of finance for the upgrade and refurbishment of existing toilet facility in the terminal building, among others.
Gov. Ugwuanyi who noted that it was indeed an enormous sacrifice on the part of the government and good people of Enugu State, pointed out that it was a sacrifice worth the while, with the historic event of the reopening of the newly rehabilitated airport.
The governor stated that the project was a clear testimony to President Buhari’s determination to “rebuild the nation through the provision of critical infrastructure, to stimulate economic growth and development of the Nigerian nation”.
He also appreciated his fellow South East governors, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Sirika and other stakeholders, for their efforts and commitment to the actualization of the project.
Other dignitaries at the event include Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Imo State Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku, Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, Senator Smart Adeyemi, Senator Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Prince Arthur Eze, Dr. Chris Ngige, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, members of the National Assembly from the zone, the Obi of Onitsha, HRM, Igwe Alfred Achebe, etc.